As you stare into the abyss, it stares back.
Joe R. Lansdale has made one twisted, bloody, and disturbing mess from the works of H.G. Wells. This graphic novelization brings it to a new audience and in a wonderful way, but the richness of the creativity of tying all these parts of great science fiction into a dark and bleak world has to be acknowledged and celebrated. The team at Dark Horse handling the adaptation has done a spectacular job of conveying this work, and it’s drawn me into a story I never thought I’d be loving as much as I am.
Mark Alan Miller has pared the novel into a story that can truly sing in this medium. Trusting in the art team to do the heavy lifting with regard to tone and internal dialogue, he crafts the story with what needs to happen, bringing all of the disparate elements together in a great way. I’ve not read many of the novels involved in this work, but I know them with passing casualness, and this story has rekindled my interest in Wells and his contemporaries. This issue serves to give us the background on our big bad, and with the heroes’ stories handled in the first, it seems we’re very close to the action dropping very soon. There’s great empathy given to our antagonist, and though I can’t see many redeeming qualities, he has been given a very compelling and driving motivation.
The art maintains the pulpy feel of a newspaper strip, and it helps convey the period of the piece incredibly well through the lens of an older medium’s sensibilities. I’m so completely drawn into this slightly off historical world they’ve put on the page for us, and I love the tone they’ve conveyed for us. This world is not well; all things in it are aging, breaking down (characters included), and falling to ruin. It’s the wondrous drive of the script that provides the counterpoint and the dynamic tension of the series, fighting the inertia and entropy that our ragtag band plods to and against their doom. This lets the plot advance in the script without needing to remind us of the stakes; the visuals handle it quite well.
Steampunk and alternate history folks will still be digging this series, and fans of classic science fiction will, as well. If you’ve never been drawn to it especially, but wonder what the incredible draw of these works/worlds is, then this might be the perfect intro to it for you with the strong, character-driven plot and big personalities.
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